The Around The World project is inspired by a mothering around the world series that I really enjoyed reading. I thought it would be a wonderful idea to see how teaching dance varies around the world. Each month I will post an interview from a different country. I’m so excited to learn about the way dance is taught in other places. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂
Meet Eleanna who teaches dance in Greece. She was unable to provide photos because of privacy in Greece but the interview is awesome!
On teaching dance as a career…
1) Can you make a sustainable living?
Art cannot be paid in any forms
2) Are there full time teaching positions?
In rare occasions there are; but most of the teaching positions are part-time.
3) What credentials do dance teachers need?
In Greece, in order to teach, dance teachers either need to have a teaching diploma or a teaching degree obtained by a private professional School of Dance or the State School of Dance or the Greek National Opera House, which are all recognized by the Greek Ministry of Culture; or obtaining a teaching degree from a Dance School abroad which will be again recognized by the Greek State.
4) What additional education/higher degrees are necessary?
Continuous professional development is always desirable; as a professional, you need to “keep up” to date if you want to be competitive and “stand out” from other dance teachers; but it is always up to the discretion of the teacher if and how will keep up with additional education and/or higher degrees.
5) Is a teaching dance career respected in your community?
If you respect your job –as a dance teacher- then without doubt community will pay respects ☺
On teaching dance at every level and age…
1) Is early childhood dance available? (0- 5)
Yes, there is and it is called pre-school dance curriculum, addressed to children between
2,5 to 5 years old.
2) Is dance on the college level available? What curriculum do you use?
In private colleges yes there is, such as Deree College (The American College of Greece); in state universities no there isn’t. I am not quite familiar with the curriculum as I don’t teach at college level.
3) How have you created your own curriculum?
I have created my own curriculum through inspiration from different forms of art such as storytelling, painting, theatrical plays, music and of course dance.
4) Is dance taught combined with other art forms or separately?
For me a combination is the best. Unfortunately, in Greece teaching dance in combination with other forms of art, mainly is up to the discretion of the dancing school that the teacher is teaching and secondly up to the teacher if she/he wants to enrich her classes.
On creating dance for early learners…
1) Are there recitals?
In Greece we call “recitals” “annual dance performances”; these are organized by the dancing schools in order for the children to perform and demonstrate what they have learned throughout the year. In addition to that, each dance body (e.g. RAD Hellenic Region, ISTD Latin etc.) ,almost every year, arranges performances with selected children from all dance schools in order for the bodies to teach children how it is to dance “out of your dancing school” in a more professional level.
2) How do you encourage personal expression and creativity?
According to the curriculum that’s been arranged for each class, children are free to express their opinion through directed questions given or through free dancing on the subject’s class, too.
3) Is student input encouraged?
Always! You can get great inspiration from your students; especially during moments where an activity doesn’t “really match” with the classroom, as you had thought initially, and the “spirit” of the class is starting getting low.
4) What role do the students play in the creative process?
Main role; as their spontaneous responses drive you to more creative ideas!
1) What is parent involvement like?
Parents’ involvement has to do with the ‘mental’ and ‘physical’ preparation of the kids for their dance lesson (e.g. arrange to wear the appropriate clothing for the lesson, do their hair properly, bring them on time for class & collect them on time after class etc.). Everything else is arranged by the dance school (e.g. theme for annual performances, costumes, choreographies etc.)
2) How do you communicate with parents?
Always with a big smile on my face, showing my openness for discussing anything that has to do with their children’s progress in my ballet classes; through discussion I am trying to inform them of their children’s abilities and also address any issue concerning their children’s progress, too.
3) Do you offer parent/toddler classes?
It would have been lovely, but unfortunately the schools that I am currently teaching do not offer this service.
4) How do you engage parents?
Same answer as question 2 of this section
On your dance educator community…
1) What resources and support are available?
Teachers who are interested in Professional Development can find many things on the internet that can help them with their teaching progress.
2) How do dance educators interact?
As a member & Registered Teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance & the Greek Hellenic Region of Royal Academy of Dance (English Ballet system) we-as educators- mainly interact through the Annual Meeting. During the meeting we discuss issues that may have occurred in the schools that we teach while we interchange ideas that could be helpful in any occasion. In addition to that, an email mailing list is available via the official website of Royal Academy of Dance where news are communicated.
3) Is sharing ideas and techniques common?
It is common especially at the seminars that are held by the Royal Academy of Dance, where we have the opportunity to share ideas and techniques.
4) are there professional development opportunities (conferences, blogs, teacher trainings,)?
Yes, there are. Professionals who are interested in Professional Development Opportunities can find online many interesting things that will inspire them on their teaching progress.
On the role of dance in your larger community…
1) Is it government funded?
Probably in the past; but now with the financial crisis that we have in Greece, as far as I am aware of, Government funding unfortunately is unavailable.
2) Are there dance festivals?
The most well-known dance festivals in Greece are the Kalamata International Dance Festival and the Greek Festival. Both are held during summer time. In addition to that, the Greek Association of Dance Schools Owners (SISXE) organizes each year a charity-dancing gala.
3) Is there a national company?
Yes, the Greek national ballet
4) How is dance portrayed in the media (television, film, etc.)?
Dance is always portrayed in a positive way especially through television and web. Greeks are a demanding viewing audience and are always interested in watching quality performances.
5) Is being a professional dancer a respected career?
Yes; since it is not a common profession and due to the fact that “special mind and body abilities” are required in order to become a professional dancer, I would say it is.
On Dance in Schools…
1) Is dance part of the school curriculum?
In Greece, only Greek traditional dances are part of the school curriculum; unfortunately no other form of dancing is supported by the state school curriculum.
2) Are there specific ages that receive dance?
Yes, there are. Usually Greek Traditional Dances are taught at the primary school curriculum from the age of 6 to the age of 12. In private dance schools children can start dancing from the age of 2.5 without any other limitation on the age; after all, dance is for everybody!
3) Is dance in the schools taught by a specialist or classroom teachers?
Greek traditional dances are taught by the gymnastics teacher, who is specialized in Greek traditional dancing. In private sector, if you want to teach other forms of dances it is necessary to have a recognized degree/diploma by the Greek Ministry of Culture.
On Dance in a private studio setting…
1) Is taking dance class a common hobby afterschool?
Yes, it is.
2) On weekends?
Yes, it is; especially for adults who have a busy schedule during the week.
3) Is it as popular as sports?
Not as popular as football (soccer) for example.
4) What types of dance is popular in studio settings?
Funky, hip-hop, break, latin, Zumba…is in fashion lately!
5) Does extra-curricular dance class seem affordable?
Unfortunately with the financial crisis in Greece no extra-curricular activity is affordable; but dance schools and studios are trying their best in order to have the best available deals for their clients with the best available dance products!
On Boys in dance…
1) Is it acceptable for boys to dance?
Yes, it is
2) Is it cool?
Yes, it is
3) Is it integrated with the girls?
Yes, it is
4) Which classes seem most popular for boys?
Funky jazz, modern, break & hip-hop
On dance and tradition…
1) Are there traditional dances of your country?
Yes, there are. Each region has local variations and different styles of dances.
2) How are traditional dances passed on through the generations?
Through societies and non-profit organizations. The most popular in Greece & abroad are Lyceum of Greek women & Dora Stratou Dance Company. (http://www.lykeionellinidon.gr/ , http://www.grdance.org/gr/index.php ). Another popular way is through tradition and festivities such as weddings & baptisms.
3) Are there holiday dances?
No; but there are for e.g. special songs & dances for weddings, special songs for carnival period, welcoming spring & summer, etc.
4) Is dance experienced at social gatherings or is it experienced at the theatre or both?
Greek traditional dance is experienced in both cases but in different ways. In social gathering the joy of experience comes through dancing as at the theatre the joy of experience comes through watching.
5) Is seeing live performance affordable?
If you are a fan of performances you will definitely find a way to watch a performance; after all there are prices for all budgets.
On dance and language…
1) Does dance play a role language development?
Oh, absolutely; especially in the early stages (2.5-5) where children have just started going into school and interacting with children of their age.
2) Is dance incorporated in learning different languages?
French is one! So definitely, it does.
3) Do you use traditional French ballet terms?
Always! I think it is really important for the children from an early stage in ballet classes (I had seen it works after the age of 8 for my students), to start connecting the movement with the term.
On dance and technology…
1) Do you use video as a teaching tool?
If I would like to inspire my students or want to work with them on a particular repertoire, I will definitely use my computer in the class! With my elder students, I don’t need to do that as I post my favorite videos on my Facebook page and they can watch them from there.
2) What role does technology play in lesson planning?
Major role!!! In fact, I cannot leave without my computer; It’s like the extension of my port de bras ☺ It helps me research, prepare my lesson plans, as well as keep a detailed logbook of my dance progress while it gives me the capability to connect with the dance world worldwide…which is the most fascinating of all!!!
On anything else you would like to share?
What are you focused on in your teaching at the moment?
I am focused on creating a core basis of ballet stories which can be adaptable to the needs and activities for all ballet levels that I teach.
What goals do you have for your students?
To succeed on the learning outcomes & objectives for each semester, to have fun and become better & more sophisticated dancers!
Where do you find your inspiration?
From the needs of each class and the children themselves.
Why did you choose dance education as a career?
I started dancing at the age of 3. From the very first time I entered into the ballet class, I knew that I wanted to be a ballerina. It was obvious and everybody could see I was talented. Later in life & for various reasons I studied something completely different from dance, which I loved, too but not as much as dancing. I never stopped dancing and when the right time came I decided to engage myself with my FIRST & BIG love…dancing! But because I was a bit old to become a ballerina I decided to study & become a ballet teacher…so here I am! Ready for my classes to inspire my children, to pass them my knowledge of ballet but more than anything make them LOVE my passion=BALLET!
What would you like to see in the future in dance education?
I would like to see a more creative approach in dance education. That approach can be found in all sorts of arts. It is this “magical ingredient” that helps you teach better, have new & exciting ideas at an ease, smile more, keep children more involved & more enthusiastic throughout the whole class, make the parents happy wanting to bring their children again & again to your classes ☺